New exhibit to celebrate 30 years

While the re-opened Shangri La gardens might be considered the “new kid” among Stark Foundation properties available to the public, its downtown cousin will soon near the 30-year mark.

Having been there at the beginning, Director Sarah Boehme remembers the Stark Museum of Art’s opening as “low-profile.”

She worked as a curator there from 1978-82.

“There was not a great deal of flourish, because that was the museum’s culture at that time,” she said. “We had sent out a press release, but it was a very small ceremony.  

“In the future, we hope to have a more visible presence in the community, the state and the nation.”

Boehme, an Orange native, joined as director in 2006, replacing the retired David Hunt. She returned to Orange after a successful run at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyo. 

“Thirtieth Anniversary Treasures” is slated to run Aug. 19 through Oct. 29. The exhibit takes advantage of the museum’s vast collection with works never before displayed. 

More anniversary events are planned in the fall, Boehme said.

“We will have a Family Fun Day, and we want to do something to observe the official birthday,” she said. 

The museum opened Nov. 29. 1978.

According to museum archives, H.J. Lutcher Stark had talked about opening a museum as early as 1927. He began building his collection in the late ‘20s, continuing into the early ‘60s with regular visits with wife Nelda to artistic communities in Santa Fe and Taos, N.M. Although he didn’t live to see the museum’s opening, it could not have been possible without the works by John James Audubon and Western pieces of Frederic Remington, John Mix Stanley and others gathered over the years. 

Highlights of “Thirtieth Anniversary Treasures” include a glowing depiction of Venice by Thomas Moran and two new acquisitions by Grafton Tyler Brown, the first African-American artist represented in the collection. 

Organized in five sections, the exhibit begins with, “The Necessity of Europe: Albert Bierstadt,” with several rare sketches by Bierstadt from his European trips as well as his trips to the American West.

“Beyond the American West: Thomas Moran” is the second section. While Moran earned success with his Western paintings (several of which are on view in the museum’s permanent collection) he faced new artistic challenges in his depictions of other regions. 

The third section, “The American Context: East and West” features a range of American artists, including two paintings by renowned American folk artist “Grandma” Moses. Also on view is George Catlin’s “LaSalle and Party” and “Entering the Mississippi,“ a new acquisition from the series on the explorer. Brown’s, “Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park” and “Castle Geyser, Yellowstone National Park,” are also included. 

The fourth and fifth sections, respectively, are “Enlarging the Story: Artists of Texas” (highlighting Julian Onderdonk, who will be the focus of a Stark Museum of Art exhibit in early 2009) and “The Natural World: John Gould,” showing illustrations published in Charles Darwin’s report of his expedition on the Beagle.

To help children engage in the exhibit, the museum will have a children’s activity area. A coloring exercise, a magnet board game, and a mix-match flip book will relate to the works of art on view.

For more information, call 886-2787 or go to